Legendary silent star Theda Bara's right breast plate from her lost film Cleopatra was recently sold by one of my favorite auction houses—Julien's—for $22,500, more than 20 times the estimate.
As amazing as that was, a seemingly identical item has now come up for auction at another of my favorite auction houses—Profiles in History (auction catalogue PDF). It's also described as her right breast plate, though the estimate is $15,000 to $20,000 this time.
I don't get it. I know multiples exist in movie wardrobes, but those silent movies would've been more hard-scrabble. In fact, in the Profiles auction (December 15—16, 2012) includes a treasure trove of Bara's original costumes as preserved by her neighbor of 60 years ago, and in one description Bara is said to have personally designed her vulture coronation crown from the same film.
UPDATE: Profiles in History very politely spoke with me on the phone about this. All they could offer was that theirs is legit, in that it comes directly from the artist to her neighbor, and then was sold as a group to a third party (who is selling it all now). I definitely think their provenance is tip-top. The man answering the phone had no thoughts as to why the Julien's piece would have been the right side only as well, or as to its provenance.